Sunday, October 19, 2014

10 Interesting Facts about San Francisco you didn't Know

1. The Cable Car is the only moving National Historic Monument in the World. Built in 1873, the Cable Cars transport 9.7 million people around the city annually. 

Thinking about the related funny facts, we should mention that the most infamous cable car victim was Gloria Sykes, who claimed that a 1964 accident left her with a black eye, bruises, and an unquenchable sex drive. When a mechanical failure caused the car she was riding to slide backwards down a hill, Sykes – later dubbed the "cable car nymphomaniac" by the daily newspapers -- sued the City of San Francisco for a half million dollars. Her lawyers argued that the sexual abuse she suffered as a child combined with the stress of the accident caused her to seek the company of up to 50 sexual partners a week. After listening to 44 taped transcripts of an electrically hypnotized Sykes, the jury awarded the insatiable (ha) plaintiff $50,000 in damages. Sykes’ case is cited as one of the earliest court-recognized examples of post-traumatic stress disorder.

2. Marilyn Monroe married baseball star Joe Di Maggio in City Hall in 1954. The intended small, secret ceremony was leaked to the press hours before the wedding, turning it into quite a public skeptical. After their marriage, they lived in the Marina at 2150 Beach Street.

Their marriage had problems from the start. DiMaggio was looking to settle down and wanted a stay-at-home wife; Monroe wanted to continue with her career, which took her all over the world. “He wants to cut me off completely from my whole world of motion pictures, friends, and creative people that I know,” Monroe wrote to a friend. Furthermore, DiMaggio didn’t approve of Monroe’s public sexuality. During a famous scene in the “The Seven Year Itch” in which Monroe stood over New York subway grate with her dress billowing up, DiMaggio “was reported to have said angrily: ‘What the hell’s going on here?’” according to Time. Monroe filed for divorce in October 1954, citing “mental cruelty.” Though their marriage lasted only nine months, the two remained friends until Monroe’s tragic death in 1962. DiMaggio organized her funeral and reportedly knelt down at her grave and said, “I love you. I love you. DiMaggio had roses sent to Monroe’s crypt three times a week for the next 20 years. He died in 1999 having never remarried.

3. Makoto Hagiwara a Japanese immigrant and designer of Golden Gate Park’s famous Japanese Tea Garden, created the first fortune cookie in 1914. There was a dispute in the 1980’s that a restaurant owner in Los Angeles invented the cookie and the case even went to court, but alas the evidence ruled in favor of San Francisco. Today there are over 3 billion fortune cookies made each year around the world.

4. When the stock market crashed in 1929, not one San Francisco bank failed. Of the more than 25,000 banks in business in 1929, by 1933, only 11,000 survived. Actually, it was not so bad in the area, if the city was able to construct both the Oakland Bay Bridge and the Golden Gate Bridge during the Depression.

5. San Francisco was originally named Yerba Buena – In 1835 SF was called Yerba Buena, Spanish for “Good Herb”, a fragrant mint plant that grew along the shoreline of the bay. In 1847 the name was changed to San Francisco after Saint Francis.

6. The notorious gangster and mob boss was among the first prisoners to occupy the new Alcatraz federal prison in August 1934. Capone had bribed guards to receive preferential treatment while serving his tax-evasion sentence in Atlanta, but that changed after his transfer to the island prison. The conditions broke Capone. “It looks like Alcatraz has got me licked,” he reportedly told his warden. In fact, Convict No. 85 became so cooperative that he was permitted to play banjo in the Alcatraz prison band, the Rock Islanders, which gave regular Sunday concerts for other inmates.

7. Although they made an unannounced live appearance in January 1969 on the rooftop of the Apple building, The Beatles' final live concert took place on 29 August 1966 at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, California. The Park's capacity was 42,500, but only 25,000 tickets were sold, leaving large sections of unsold seats.

8. Although few history books mention his name, in the In September 1859 a San Francisco’s favorite eccentric resident Joshua Abraham Norton proclaimed himself Norton I, Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico. And for almost a quarter of a century he ruled his vast domain with exemplary benevolence and kindly common sense.

When Norton died suddenly of apoplexy on January 8th, 1880, the whole city mourned its loss. "San Francisco without Emperor Norton," a newspaper announced, "will be like a throne without a king," and the city knew it. San Franciscans had grown to love Norton, eccentric or not, and they let it be known. Flags hung at half-mast. Businesses closed out of respect. Funeral and burial arrangements for the Emperor were the most elaborate the city had seen, with an impressive 30,000 people paying their last respects. With wealthier citizens bearing the expenses, Norton was laid to rest in the Masonic Cemetery with all the ceremony that a real emperor would have received.

9. Behind New York, Moscow and London, San Francisco is 4th in the world in terms of numbers of billionaires living within its city limits, while having less than 10% the population of the other three cities.

10. An important tourist spot in San Francisco is the Golden Gate Bridge. Established in 1937, it is the world’s second longest single span. It links San Francisco with Marin County and the Redwood Empire. The Golden Gate Bridge is continuously painted and repainted all the time, because the bridge is so long that by the time the paint crew gets from one end to the other, it’s time to start over again.

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